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How do I Clean my Floor?

One of the most common questions we get from customers is “How do I clean my floor?”

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that while manufacturers say one thing, there are many other opposing and contradictory opinions out there, ie. social media influencers, online forums, mis-informed retail sales staff, and of course friends and relatives who all weigh in on what they think is the best method for cleaning hardwood floors.

At a minimum, using an improper cleaning product or procedure can produce an unsatisfactory result. At worst, it can damage the floor beyond repair and void the warranty.

Here are 4 of the most commonly misused cleaning products and practice:

1. Steam Mops – All hardwood flooring maintenance manuals caution against using excessive moisture when cleaning floors as moisture can be absorbed by the wood, causing it to swell, buckle and even remove the finish. Steam is just another form of water and can do just as much damage, especially when it's being applied to the floor under pressure, forcing moisture into the joints between boards. Many manufacturers of steam mop products (we’ve all seen them at the home shows) state that their products are suitable for use on hardwood floors. Hardwood Flooring manufacturers beg to differ - so do major industry organizations like the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and the Wood Floor Covering Association (WFCA). There isn’t a wood or laminate manufacturer out there that condones the use of steam cleaning equipment on their floors.

2. Oil Soaps – Oil soaps are another product that are commonly, and incorrectly, used to clean prefinished hardwood floors. Again, confusion on the part of customers is hardly surprising given that these products are often promoted as being suitable for use on ‘all kinds of finished wood surfaces’, which surely must include prefinished wood floors, right? No. A key ingredient of oil soaps is – surprise - vegetable oil. The product is usually mixed with water and the resulting solution is used to wash the floor. After a cleaning session, the water evaporates, leaving a residue of oil soap on the surface of the floor. Over repeated ‘cleanings’ this residue accumulates to the point where it obscures the finish and may actually attract and trap dirt and dust on the surface, making the floor look perpetually dull and dingy. You know the footprints you can see on your floor? It's not your floor, it’s the build up of an incorrect cleaning product sitting on the surface of your flooring. Most warranties from finish manufacturers’ and factory-finished wood flooring manufacturers are voided by the use of oil soap cleaners.

3. One Step Refresh/Restore/Renew products – there are a lot of products on the market that promise to ‘refresh, restore, or renew’ a floor's finish while doing a routine cleaning. What most of these products are actually doing is adding a new, additional layer of acrylic or urethane on top of the existing finish the floor already has. These additional layers don’t bind well to the floor's factory finish and are likely to start peeling or flaking off, giving the impression that the floor's finish is defective. An inconsistent application can also lead to gloss variations and other visual issues.

4. Laundry Detergent – With the surge of social media influencers, there are many so called ‘experts’ offering unfounded advice. One such trend is using powdered laundry detergent and bleaches to clean your hardwood floors. These have shown to damage the finish on the wood floors. Using harsh detergents like this will void your warranty and likely damage your finish.

So what CAN you do? Use a cleaning product that is recommended by your manufacturer that has been designed and tested specifically for use on hardwood floors. When looking for care and maintenance info on any flooring product, always go with the manufacturer’s recommendation over a third party suggestion.

Blog provided by: Grand Design Floors


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